Joyland Reviews Keep Coming

I loved Joyland!  And, it seems the positive reviews continue to pour out.  Of course, most of the major book reviewers have had their say on the book; but just as important are the reflections of more ordinary folk.

Alison Reeger Cook wrote a review for in which she admitted that this was her first Stephen King book.  Her reaction?  Impressed that King was able to take well worn themes and work them anew.  She also noted that King was able to keep from creating paper cutouts of characters, but created real depth.
 This is not a fast-paced novel. It takes its time getting to the central mystery about the haunted house and the legacy of the infamous murder. Yet, the story is steadfastly engaging and, at times, touching. King gives as much care and thought to this novel as any of his more highly publicized literature. And his writing seamlessly combines tinges of natural humor, subtle drama and just the right amount of tension for suspense.
He final take?  She'll be reading more Stephen King!

Also published this past Sunday, Davin Arul writes a review of Joyland for, calling the novel, "a murder-mystery that’s sweet, fluffy and a tad lightweight," and then promises, "but you’ll savour every little strand."

Arul, like Cook, has not been keeping up with the most recent Stephen King offerings.  He starts by saying "IT has been a long time since a Stephen King book grabbed my attention from the start and held it right through to the end."  Is IT capitalized simply because it is the beginning of the article, or is it a clue that IT was the last novel by King that was joyfully read cover to cover?

He notes,
 Where the book really scores high marks is in its depiction of carnival life, the parlance and little behind-the-scenes nuggets of information, in capturing the things that go into creating the mass illusion – call it magic if you must – that makes such places so special in people’s lives and memories.
I had thought about this as well:
There is a supernatural element in here that is somewhat jarring when you consider the core theme of the HCC imprint is supposed to be “hard boiled crime” after all. But then, this is a Stephen King book, so we shouldn’t be surprised to find its murder-mystery spiced with ghosts and people who have the “Shining”.
Arul suggests that the great story telling found in Joyland is a hopeful sign of good things to come in Doctor Sleep.  I couldn't agree more!


  1. The subject comes up every once in a while: Stephen King is allegedly past his prime, and no longer creating memorable classics like he once did.

    I suppose I see how someone could come to that conclusion, but I disagree with it vehemently. Just over the course of the past few years, he's written several books that I'd call instant classics: "11/22/63," "The Wind Through the Keyhole," "Joyland," "Duma Key," and "Full Dark, No Stars." I'm tempted to say "Under the Dome" as well.

    Almost all artists -- in any medium -- experience a major downturn in quality the further the get into their careers. Sometimes they rebound from it; sometimes they don't.

    I don't think King has hit his yet. I don't think he's even gotten close to it. And I won't be surprised if he never does.

  2. I think it is unfair to say he's past his prime. Those who expect to see stuff like Pet Sematary, The Shining, It, etc. Stephen King has matured.

    It's not to say that those works were immature. But he's matured as a writer. He's dealing with more complex ideas and emotions.

    He's writing stuff today that is interesting and thought provoking. Not all of it is good, but that's not due to being past his prime.

  3. Well, I agree with the reviewer who said it's "lightweight", and while it's not bad, I would have to label it middle of the road.

    What that says for Sleep, well...

    When questions of the quality of King's writing come up I'll have to point to two obvious facts.

    1. His accident and how by his own admission it has caused him to be "Slowed down" (King's words).

    2. Related to point 1 above is also the fact that he's not as young as he used to be.

    This isn't to say that King is no longer capable o writing a great book, I think he is, and that as long as he's alive he's got a few more good stories left in him.

    I also would suggest that books like It or Misery are more complex than at first glance (a perfect review of It is in Tony Magistrale's epilogue to Landscapes of Fear). Also, the diction and technical mastery in both books is such superlative quality that they deserve their own copies in the Library of America (and one day they may, fingers crossed).

    I'm not saying and don't believe that technical mastery or good diction equal art,; in many cases they do not. However with King in both books, story and craft come together to produce two of the most near perfect stories I've ever read, and set the standard by which I think King should be judged.

    Of course that's just two cents.


  4. I liked Joyland a lot. I like the simple tale.

  5. I just got this book and started it yesterday. I'm not far enough to create an opinion, but I love seeing all the great reviews.

    Great post.